Kosovo officials hospitalized after opening ballot boxes

Kosovo election officials hospitalized after opening ballot boxes from Serbia

PRISTINA, Kosovo -- More than 20 Central Election Commission officials have been taken to the hospital with health problems after opening five ballot boxes from Serbia, authorities in Kosovo said Sunday.

Twenty-six officials had allergic reactions and skin problems after opening the ballot boxes, local media Kosovapress reported. Emergency center doctors said all had itching and reddened skin.

Naser Ramadani, head of the Public Health National Institute, said nine women, including two pregnant ones, were treated for itching and vomiting, adding that they were in stable condition.

A police spokesman confirmed the incident but declined to give details, saying they are investigating. The election commission spokesman declined to comment.

Kosovo held snap elections a week ago which were won by a left-wing party. More than 300 ballot boxes are being recounted, and Sunday's incident occurred at an office verifying the boxes being recounted in downtown Pristina.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008. It has been recognized by more than 100 countries but not by Serbia.

The Serbian office for Kosovo in Serbia and the Belgrade-supported Serb List party in Kosovo called the incident a "manipulation" while the new Kosovo Cabinet is being formed.